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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Personal Peace (06/01/06)

TITLE: Dark thoughts from inside a coffin
By Melanie Kerr


The yacht builders had the audacity to call it a double sized cabin. The bed was the size and shape of a coffin. The best way in to get in was to go feet first and wriggle down. There was quite a bit of headroom, perhaps enough to lean on one elbow and read a book, but the feet were quite a tight fit.

It was rather claustrophobic, with the ceiling, barely an arm's length away and damp with condensation. Once the light was off it was very dark. I couldn't see my hand in front of my face. My husband was wedged in next to me gently snoring

We were at the stern of the boat, the blunt end. Above us were the steering wheel and an outdoor seating area. To the left of our cabin was a small toilet. It worked by vigorously pumping a lever before flushing. All that stood between us and the sea, on the other side, was a thin wall of fibreglass.

It was the May long weekend and the skipper, a sailing friend, has signed us on as crew. The venue was a stretch of the Atlantic Ocean along the west coast of Scotland peppered with islands. Ferries chugged from one port to another churning up the water and leaving oily trails.

The skipper mentioned in passing that the yacht had been in an accident. A hole beneath the water line had been repaired.

It was the first night. We had berthed at a pontoon in our first port of call. Having got there quite late in the evening, we were unlucky enough not to be next to the pontoon, but tied up to another boat, which was tied up to another boat, which was tied up to another boat, which was tied up to the pontoon. I think we were four boats out from the pontoon. The whole etiquette of clambering over your neighbour's boats to get to the pontoon remains a mystery.

That night as I lay in my coffin in the intense dark, I heard a distinct dripping sound. There was a plip-plop staccato and the sound of water swishing and swirling around. I couldn't say for sure where it was coming from but I began to suspect that the hole beneath the water line had not been repaired properly.

People were clambering about on deck, talking in urgent whispers, and there was a pumping sound. Lying in my dark coffin I just knew that the hole had re-appeared and they were trying to pump out the water to stop us sinking.

I woke my husband to tell him that I thought we were sinking, that the hole had not been fixed, that water was slowly seeping in. He agreed that the dripping sounded rather loud, but promptly rolled over and resumed his snoring on a slightly higher frequency.

Scared seems to be too feeble a word to describe how I felt. I have an active imagination with no off switch. I saw the whole scenario played out in ghoulish detail ending with me being buried at sea.

I could take it no longer and finally wriggled out of bed to find out for sure just what was going on.

Opening the cabin door, expecting a flood of water to gush in, I was mildly surprised to find the skipper and the first mate stretched out on their beds, either side of the galley, fast asleep. If we had been sinking, they would not have been sleeping. Apparently another yacht had pulled up alongside of us during the night. The people on deck had been clambering over us to tie up their yacht. The dripping water and ominous swirling sounds were from water passing between the yachts.

I felt rather foolish about my fears. Looking at the skipper and his friend asleep, I felt peace wash over me like a wave. I returned to the coffin, climbed in feet first and promptly fell asleep.

God clearly spoke to me through that experience. All it took to restore my peace and soothe my fears that night was one look at the skipper. Seeing him asleep I knew that there was nothing wrong. God told me that whenever I feel inclined to panic I should look at Him. If he is panicking, I have His permission to join in. He is the Prince of Peace and never panics.

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This article has been read 1915 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Amy Michelle Wiley 06/08/06
Fun read! Good job. :-)
Kevin Kindrick06/08/06
AMEN! I loved that last line, "If he is panicking, I have His permission to join in." Had me laughing out loud! And such a simple lesson to our culture today.
Thanks for sharing, and God bless,

Helen Paynter06/09/06
Nice story, told with a light touch. I loved the ending.
Lori Othouse 06/10/06
Yes, fantastic ending! A great lesson to us all told with humor but cutting right to the heart of the matter. Great job!
Lynda Lee Schab 06/11/06
Nice story - the title draws you right in! Great message woven throughout too. The only (tiny) thing I would suggest is getting rid of the last line. The one before it speaks for itself. Other than that, very well done!
Edy T Johnson 06/12/06
This is absolutely perfect! Ready for the publisher, if you ask me. You did a beautiful job addressing the topic and pulling the reader right into the "coffin" with you! Just splendid writing---thanks!
Rita Garcia06/13/06
Great story! The message comes shining through, keep our eyes upon Jesus!
Anita Neuman06/13/06
What a delightful story! You drew me right into the scene and entertained me all the way through. The point at the end is absolutely brilliant, too. Love it!
Jan Ackerson 06/13/06
Great job--an excellent example of how a "teaching" essay should be written--entertaining, real, and with a great kicker.
Dr. Sharon Schuetz06/14/06
This was a great story that most of us with our active imaginations can relate to. One little "extra word" thing and a missing period short of perfection.

"The best way in to get in was to go feet first and wriggle down."
Rachel Rudd 06/14/06
This is a great story! I was just on a similar boat yesterday so I could definitely picture the scene. I really loved the second to last line, but agree with the comment about the very last line. Maybe it could be worded differently?
Anyway, this is a wonderfully written "modern day parable." I thought about Jesus being on the boat sleeping while the disciples were so worried. Thanks for sharing!
Jen Davis06/14/06
Well written. I felt your claustrophobia and anxiety as I read this story, so I was grateful at the end to experience the peace as well. Good job.
Sally Hanan06/15/06
You described this scenario so well I could picture and hear every part of the boat, especially your sleeping husband :)